Edwards leads England canter
England Women 91 for 1 (Edwards 62*) beat South Africa Women 89 for 4 (van Niekerk 36) by nine wickets
England took the first honours in the Twenty20 series with a comfortable nine-wicket victory at Chelmsford having restricted South Africa to 89 for 4. The chase was dominated, as has so often been the case, by Charlotte Edwards who struck a 47-ball fifty which gave a sold out 5000-strong crowd plenty to cheer after an insipid effort by the visitors.
For Edwards, it was a continuation of the form she showed in the one-day series against India where she made 57 and an unbeaten 108 to lead England to a 2-0 success after the dispiriting loss of the Test match at Wormsley. Her tenth boundary, clipped through the leg side, secured victory with a handsome 39 deliveries to spare.
South Africa's innings never found any significant tempo; their Powerplay score was 23 for 1 and throughout the 20 overs they managed just seven fours. Dane van Niekerk top-scored with 36 but it took her 54 deliveries although, especially early in the innings, it was less about the quality of stroke for South Africa but more about placement as they regularly picked out the tight off-side field.
The boundary was out closer to the 65-metre limit - they can be in as far as 55 metres - which was perhaps a tactic from England who were out-powered at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh this year when they did not hit a single six. Coupled with accurate bowling, South Africa's batting was stymied.
Katherine Brunt made the first breakthrough when she found the edge of Trisha Chetty and though the next wicket did not come for 12 overs England never lost control of the scoring. Arguably the biggest scare came when Sarah Taylor, attempting one of her premeditated grabs off a reverse sweep, almost took a ball in the face to suggest it would be wise for her to wear a helmet when standing up to the stumps even though she has previously found it uncomfortable.
With the innings creeping along, van Niekerk was bowled attempting a reverse sweep, Lizelle Lee was run out and captain Mignon du Preez was well caught by Lydia Greenway.
The only wicket to fall in England's chase was Lauren Winfield who was run out in a dismissal that did not leave either her or Edwards overly impressed. Edwards had dabbed the ball into the off side and as Winfield reacted to the call, the bowler Moseline Daniels ran across from her follow-through towards the off side, cutting in front of Winfield. The momentary interruption meant Winfield could not make her ground to beat a direct hit. Daniels, however, was well within her rights to try and field the ball and Winfield had to accept her frustration.
The rest of the match was a canter for Edwards and Taylor. South Africa tried eight bowlers with little impact as Edwards put on a skilful display of strokeplay - regularly picking the gaps through the leg side, both through and over the field - but even she may hope that her team are tested a little more in the remaining two outings.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo